Monday, September 28, 2009

The Industrial North-East

The coast between Yorkshire and Northumberland is one of little known beauty and poorly hidden beasts. Brian, Peter and I met at the historic headland at Hartlepool on Friday morning for a paddle to Teesmouth. The launching spot is down a set of steps through a sandstone archway the old town wall onto a small beach called Fish Sands. As we paddled along the shores of Hartlepool Bay we kept ourselves entertained in the surf that was breaking gently on the smooth sands of Seaton Carew.

The industrial tangle of Teesmouth makes a dramatic backdrop to an otherwise flat coastline.

On Saturday we were joined by Glen and his partner Dee. Whilst us lads set about paddling from Blyth to Cresswell,  Dee helped with the logistics before looking for some horses to ride. Heading north from Blyth the coastline has all of the trappings of heavy industry (more past than present). The scenery begins to show signs of rural life where the River Wansbeck enters the sea on the approaches to Newbiggin-by-the-Sea. 

To help prevent coastal erosion Newbiggin Bay has a new breakwater complete with a huge sculpture of a couple gazing out to sea.

Lynemouth Bay lies to the north and hosts the aluminium works and power plant creating an awkward interruption to the otherwise slow but sure transition from industrial to rural coastline.

Journeys end was on the unspoilt sands of Druridge Bay just outside the rosy village of Cresswell in Northumberland.

Sunday morning saw us heading to North Shields at Tynemouth for a trip north along the coast to Blyth where we had started our trip the day before. We Paddled out of the River Tyne entrance and turned north beneath the iconic silhouette of the Tynemouth Priory. We paid a brief visit to Longsands beach where Glen swam in the challenging 6 inch surf.

We passed St Mary's Lighthouse before battling with strong offshore winds as we passed Seaton Sluice on our way to finish the day at Blyth Beach.

Finally, on Monday Brian, Peter and I finished off with a short paddle round Coquet Island before starting the long haul home back west.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Earl-aye on the Solway

Since the excitement of last year's Solway adventures with Sean passed, I have been keen to make another crossing from Cumbria to Scotland.

Jon, Dave and I assembled at the slipway in Maryport harbour and got on the water as the tide was almost half way in. Following a week of delightful weather Saturday morning greeted us dull, grey and breezy. Leaving the shelter of the harbour we engaged the open rolling sea but our destination was barely visible 18km away through gloom.

With over half of the crossing done, and with onset of better weather the Scottish shore became more visible across the wide open expanse of water. This is when we began to realise that we had under estimated the strength of the Solway tide. 

We missed Southerness Point by at least 2km and settled for the nearby beach close to the Thirl Stane natural arch.


The waters of the Solway have a reputation for becoming alarmingly rough with little provocation from the prevailing weather and soon after we set out on our return wind against tide conditions soon became tricky.

Each of the crossings ended up being 20km taking a little over 3 hours but the breezy weather and choppy seas made it seem longer. Better weather came only a short while after we had battled our way over the Solway from Scotland.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

recent highlights

A couple of weeks ago I met up with Kate Duffus who is a sea kayaking coach based in south Cumbria. A while ago she devised a navigation exercise in the northern part of Morecame Bay. The idea is to find a sandbank called 'South America' and a couple of islands; one called 'St Helena' and the other called 'Falklands'. These features are only detailed on the Ordnance Survey 1:25000 scale map and are only exposed at low water on a spring tide.

We found St Helena hiding beneath thousands of starfish but South America was so huge we couldn't paddle round it to find the Falklands. For more of the story have a look at Kate's account.

This last weekend Kirstine and I joined Terry for a paddle from Whitby along the towering cliffs to Robin Hood's Bay and back.

The cliffs are colossal and rise to over 60 metres.

Whilst Terry was posing for photos the naughty seals kept popping up in the background and pulling funny faces.

We found the perfect place for a balanced nutritional meal at Robin Hood's Bay to give us plenty of energy for the paddle back to Whitby.

Manx Hideaways

A few weeks ago Kirstine and I went to visit Keirron at his Adventurous Experiences base.

The wind never dropped much below force 5 so we made for some short rock-hopping trips along sheltered shores.

We re-discovered fun things to do from way back in childhood times...

...and explored deep scary caves. It was all a bit of a whistle stop tour but good to meet up with old friends.